Hotel Experiences

It has been an interesting week. Joan and I left Saturday to attend a Band Reunion for Eastern High School in Pekin, Indiana. Travelling on toward Tennessee, we stopped in a small Kentucky town called Cave City en route to Cookeville TN to visit our son. From there, we spent two nights in a hotel in Pigeon Forge TN for a music conference. Travelling on to Washington DC, we stopped in a hotel on the outskirts for a night …. then on to Philly where we stopped en route in a town I never heard of. Each hotel has been quite unique, so here are some misc observations.

None of these were pull off the road and see what you get stops. We American Express Skyline Miles and online reservations, also Orbitz for online reservations, a coupon book from a Welcome Center….or the recommended hotel from the convention. I subscribed to a month’s service of Verizon’s VZ Navigator which basically turns your phone into a GPS device. Pretty cool.

Cave City, KY. Days Inn.

The girl at the desk was obviously sick. It was one of those inhale thru the nose so the gurgly stuff would go down the throat and not on the face……but then would wipe her nose with her hand anyway…..multiple times, like every 30 seconds or so. It is about 11pm as Joan and I walk to the room. Joan slides the key in the lock and opens the door to find THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE ROOM!

At least the lights were on and they were each on a top of a bed, in pajamas, watching TV. As we profusely apologized and backed away from the door, the lady came to the door. She COULD have been freaked out (I was), but was actually very nice about it and wanting to make sure WE were ok. That is an experience way past awkward and somewhere in the terrifying scale. What if they had been drug dealers and thought we were breaking in…… or an off-duty cop with a gun next to the bed….. or newlyweds?

Those who think I am always calm should have seen me throw that key at the sick desk clerk. Her reply to what I said was, “I thought I moved them to room 160.” So what does she do? SHE CALLS THEM and asks them why they are in the room they are in. DUH!

Our “non-smoking” room was obviously a recent smoking to non-smoking conversion because it had everything except the ash trays. Otherwise, the room was nice and comfortable.

At check out, I specifically looked for the manager’s business cards, but the little rack was empty. Bet I know why. So the next chance I had, I went to the Days Inn corporate site and registered my complaint and asked for my money back. Below is an email response I got from the manager…..I didn’t edit anything……this is his writing and spelling…

Sent: Tue, July 13, 2010 2:24:07 PM
Subject: Days Inn stay
“Mr  Gardner, I am so sorry for the mix up on July 10th, this isn’t our normal policy.  I do wish you had let me know I was in office when you checked out on July 11th, and hear nothing about your problem on Sat. I have very  gladly refunded your discovered card with all of you charges on this stay.  Please don’t hestitate to stay with us in the future, we so value your business.
Thanks          Larry,    General Manager.”
I normally don’t say much at restaurants when they ask “was everything all right”.  This was different. At least I got some service out of the deal. So Days Inn is redeemed …. I just probably won’t stay at THAT one again any time soon.

Cookeville TN. Key West Inn

We could have stayed with our son, but their house is a little crowded and we were just sorta passing through on OUR schedule and we didn’t want to disrupt too much of theirs.  We hadn’t made reservations in advance just in case they insisted we stay. They offered, but we could tell they were tired….. so while we got to do some babysitting to give them some time out of the house, I tried to make an online reservation via Orbitz. The connection wasn’t working well, so I ended up calling the Orbitz service.

The lady was incredibly thorough and triple checked everything….. name spelling, address of the hotel, price……card number, everything.

So I was a little surprised when we actually got to the hotel and they asked if I was John Gardner of Chicago. They honored my credit card and gave me the $29 rate they had received from Orbitz. I hope it was part of their “price assurance” deal (you get a refund if anyone else books the hotel at a lower price) because that was NOT the price I thought we were paying. Thanks Orbitz.

Washington DC. Clarion

Clarions are normally a 3-star hotel. (Sleep …. Comfort …. Clarion). We got this hotel using American Express Sky Miles, so I didn’t actually pay dollars for it. I selected this one because they offered a free shuttle to the metro station so we could ride into DC and the price was much better than I expected. You should do a search on Washington DC hotels….. the first couple dozen that come up are over $300-$600/PER NIGHT! I would love to experience that sometime.

As we walk in I hear the Jamaican (guessing) clerk on the phone, “No mom, your rate is $332 PER ROOM. Yes mom, all rooms are non-smoking. Yes mom, $342 per room. Yes mom, all rooms are non-smoking.” This went on for a while. When she hung up, I commented, “I hope my room is not $332.” She laughed and then said, “If she had made me repeat that one more time, her room price was gonna be $1000.”

This was a “fun dome” type hotel with rooms surrounding a large indoor pool with a miniature golf course. It was a nice room, they had a good breakfast and the shuttle service was as described.

Havre de Grace, MD. Super 8

I had a hotel picked out, but when we stopped at the Welcome Center, the coupon books had better deals than I had found online. This one was about 5 miles off the highway, but hey, I had my GPS device so all is well, right? It was dark when we arrived. Walking into the lobby I saw the bullet proof sliding window at the service desk. Other than that….nice stay.

Philadelphia, PA. Dorm Tower #2

David invited us to spend a couple days with him — and given the price of Philly hotels along with the cost of parking, it was a pretty easy offer to accept. Having seen two of his apartments in this town, I was prepared for the way Philly treats space. He has a studio bedroom type apartment with a kitchen, bath, desk, couch, bed…… and bookcases with books double layered… the space of about half the size of a normal hotel room. What was really impressive was the security to get into the building. We had to report to a desk where Joan and I each had to provide picture ID and David had to sign in each of us. Then we would take the ticket received and present that to the security guard who would let us pass the security gate while David would scan his Penn ID to open the acrylic door for admission. And we had to do that each time we entered the building.

David is the GA (Graduate Advisor) for the “Arts House” which are those undergrads on the 12th floor. He gets to interview and select from applications all who want to be on that floor. He gets a budget to organize concerts and trips. Last year, he took a group from Philly to NY to see a Broadway Musical.

Philadelphia, PA. Sheraton Center City

The Sheraton was where the fundraising conference I attended was held. Upon entering the lobby, there is a guy in a tux manning a table of complimentary fruit, Philly pretzels, juices and water. Nice touch. The seafood restaurant off the lobby claims “the only way you could get it fresher would be to pull it out of the water yourself”.

The fun happened when, while I was finishing my visit in the exhibition hall, lights start blinking (like the fire drill lights at HNHS) and we hear an automated voice: “Attention! Attention! An emergency has been reported. Exit the building immediately. Do not use elevators.”  As we were funneling toward the down escalator, David made the comment that they should reverse the up escalators …. which happened just a few seconds after he noticed and mentioned that. Glad we were not on the 20th floor, though.

As we exited the building, the fire department, police and tv crews were arriving. Shortly thereafter, they made all the taxi drivers move and then told us to move a block away.

Since I was finished anyway, Joan and I just left. Never heard whether it was a prank or a mattress fire or what…..


We drove straight home from Philly without a hotel stayover. A total of 1940 miles in 8 days. Maybe pictures in a later post.

Thanks for reading……SUBSCRIBE for update alerts. Read what applies, delete the rest…… RESPOND!!

John Gardner


One thought on “Hotel Experiences

  1. It sounds as though your trip was a success despite, or perhaps because of the unscheduled adventures. I’m glad you and Joan are home safely and hope you are recovering from too many miles in too few days syndrome. Thanks for sharing.

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